First-time Lincoln voters pleased with election

By Ben Kreimer for NewsNetNebraska

The votes haven’t all been counted, but Aras Shakir, a first-time voter, already knows who will win the presidency.

“I’m certain Obama is going to win,” 20-year-old Shakir said at 10:15 on the eve of the election.  “I can say I voted.  My vote did count.”

Aras Shakir, a former Kurdish Iraqi refugee, believes that in America a person’s vote counts.

Shakir came to America with his family in 1998 at the age of 6. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln secondary education major, Shakir follows politics closely, both to inform himself and for discussions in his political science class.

“It’s very embarrassing if you don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

Shakir said he avoids mainstream media sources like CNN, preferring what he refers to as “unbiased” media outlets such as SourceFed, an online news outlet featuring live and recorded video content on their YouTube channel.

Ali al-Rishawi, another first-time voter, was relying on the BBC Arabic for his election night updates.  Al-Rishawi, 42, came to America in 1997 as a refugee from Iraq.  Like Shakir, he also voted Democrat.

“It felt very good (to vote),” al-Rishawi said.

Ali al-Rishawi, shown here with his wife, Zina, and two of their four daughters, plans to vote in his first U.S. election this fall.

Al-Rishawi left Iraq in 1991 during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  He refused to fight in the war, a stance that could have landed him jail under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Shakir, a Kurd, is also from Iraq.  His family left their home during Hussein’s genocide against Iraq’s Kurdish population in 1998.  Because of the violence against Kurdish people, Shakir is grateful for America’s overthrow of the Hussein regime.

In Obama’s next four years as president, Shakir believes America’s foreign policy will continue to help people in Middle Eastern countries because, he says, Obama has their best intentions in mind.

“Obama speaks to these people,” Shakir said.  “I voted Democratic.  I’m glad I voted that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *